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The link between time spent outdoors in natural settings and health outcomes, including the catch-all of longevity, has been an implicitly accepted truth throughout human history. Now this link, and its associated benefits, are being quantified. A 2019 study from the University of Exeter in Britain found that just 120 minutes, or two hours, of nature per week is enough to measurably boost health and well-being. Associated benefits of contact or exposure to natural environments, such as parks, woodlands, beaches, lakes, and more, include a lower probability of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma, hospitalization, and mental distress. For children, there is also a lower risk of obesity and myopia, improved birth outcomes and better cognitive development. For all individuals, exposure to nature leads to an increase in self-reported health results and overall subjective well-being.
Naturally, these are all positives – and are why NatureQuant’s mission is an important one. Similar to how activity trackers on smart devices nudge users to get up and walk around in order to reach a 10,000 daily step number, NatureQuant hopes that by harnessing cutting edge research to track and rate time outside and charting users’ progress, they can provide similar support for people trying to get to the 120 minutes in nature benchmark. The NatureQuant platform is built off of a database combining inputs from visual and infrared satellite imagery identifying greenery and water, aerial and street-view photography fed through AI image-recognition software to identify greenery levels, park databases, and many more sources detailing road density, noise, air and light pollution, water quality, and other important factors that determine a setting’s natural beneficence. What the platform does is combine this vast array of data using machine learning into a proprietary NatureScore from 0-100. Users can enter any address in the United States into the NatureQuant website and receive a NatureScore for the chosen location that is accurate to within ten meters. The company is currently in the process of expanding to Canada, and has plans to include Europe in its offering as well.
Recently, NatureQuant released NatureDose, a more personalized and prescriptive tool for making nature exposure an essential part of users daily routine. By optimizing the time and exposure to natural elements, NatureDose helps individuals quantify the benefits they get and empowers them to say yes to their health and well-being. Both the NatureScore and NatureDose offerings from NatureQuant have been integrated into the Strava app to provide athletes and exercisers with a more robust overview of their fitness goals and health and wellness tracking. By leveraging the NatureQuant technology, Strava users are able to better measure the experience and holistic impact of their activities, as well as receive prescriptive goals, recommendations, and reminders.
This article originally appeared in PSFK’s report, Promoting Wellness In Physical Environments.